Mexicana expects return to profitability in 2010

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Mexicana expects to return to the black next year as the airline group takes a breather after a period of rapid expansion and change.

"Basically we've reshaped the company. Now we need to stabilise all the changes," Mexicana chief executive Manuel Borja tells ATI sister publication Airline Business Magazine. "Next year we'll stabilise and return to profitability."

Mexicana in November will formally join Oneworld, completing the last step in a bold new business plan which has seen the carrier launch European services, a new regional airline and three new aircraft types over the last year. The carrier also has overhauled all its IT systems, a process that took over two years and culminated in Mexicana completing a switch to Amadeus in early October.

Borja says Grupo Mexicana, which began a transformation after it was sold by the government to Grupo Posadas in late 2005, was just under break even in 2008. The carrier's original business plan called for a return to profitability in 2009 but the swine flu and the global recession created a brutally tough environment for all Mexican carriers in the first half of the year. Traffic has since recovered but Borja says for the full year Mexicana still expects a "slightly worse" loss than 2008.

While Mexicana is planning to put the brakes on expansion in 2010 there will be one last push before the year is out. Earlier this week Mexicana announced it will open in mid December a new hub in Cancun with six new international routes.

The expansion, partly made possible by basing two regional jets in Cancun, will increase the number of international destinations Mexicana serves from Cancun from five to 11. Borja says the new flights will be scheduled to optimise connections between Latin America and the US.